Rodeo pays tribute to Madison's Killebrew

Rodeo pays tribute to Madison's Killebrew


A two-day rodeo honoring the legacy of a Madison man who died in a South American plane crash in 2021 while on a business trip is set for this weekend.

More than 500 rodeo contestants will compete at the event commemorating the life of the late Keath Killebrew.

The event will be held this weekend at the Mississippi Fairgrounds and is said to be one of the largest rodeos in the nation by organizers.

Dr. Alyssa Killebrew said The Keath Killebrew Memorial Rodeo will be held on Friday, July 28, and Saturday, July 29, at the Mississippi Coliseum. The rodeo is presented by the Killebrew Ag Foundation and proceeds will go toward scholarships for aspiring young farmers. 

Killebrew described her husband as “the love of my life” and said they “created many adventures together.” She said they met as high school sweethearts when they attended Central Holmes Academy and were together for 20 years.

“Keath lived his life like a man preparing for a bull ride,” Killebrew said. “He knew it was possible that he could get bucked off and that he did but he always go back on and kept going.”

It is an International Pro Rodeo Association event and will include barrel racing, bull riding, team roping and more. Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson said the purse is over $150,000.

“In celebration of the efforts of those who work so hard to feed and clothe us,” Gipson said. “We present to you the Inaugural Keath Killebrew Memorial Rodeo, the 2nd largest rodeo in the world with over 600 contestants all brought to you by the Killebrew Ag Foundation.” 

Mississippi natives and country music artists Chapel Hart will perform on Friday, July 28, and country music star Drake Milligan will perform on Saturday, July 29, following rodeo competitions.

“Keath Killebrew was a Mississippi farmer who dedicated his life to agriculture by working his own family farm,” Gipson said. “Helping start farms in other parts of the world and raising the next generation of farmers. To help keep his memory alive, Alyssa and the Killebrew Ag Foundation continue to support that passion of investing in the lives of future farmers by hosting the Keath Killebrew Memorial Rodeo, which will go to benefit scholarships for young people interested in farming,”

Keath Killebrew was killed in a private plane crash while on a special mission scouting land in the undeveloped Chaco region of Paraguay in early December 2021. He was 44 years old at the time.

The Killebrews were in the news in 2021 when their two-year-old pet kangaroo Rocky escaped from their yard and went on a 5-mile trek around Madison and northern parts of Ridgeland before hopping back home. Rocky is used in pet therapy with children on their farm near Flora.

Gipson said in conjunction with the rodeo, a special fall edition of the Mississippi Ag and Outdoor Expo will be open to the public Friday, July 28, through Sunday, July 30, inside the Trade Mart at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds. 

For more information on the Keath Killebrew Memorial Rodeo and Killebrew Ag Foundation, visit

Tickets can be purchased at the Coliseum Box Office or online at 

Tickets to the expo are $13 for adults, $7 for children ages 6-12 and children ages 5 years old and under will receive free admission. Tickets can be purchased at the Trade Mart. Learn more about the Mississippi Ag and Outdoor Expo at 

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